ONE OF THE LIBRARY ROOMS
The Louisville Law
LILIAN SEMPLE TRUMAN
SMITH & DUGAN
rii.il... St«nclif..i,l Stllilln
Halftones— SchUah-Kottke Engraving Us.
On March 20, 1911, there was held in the Louisville Law Library
Rooms, in the Court House, a meeting of the staff of the Louisville
Free Public (Carnegie) Library, to hear a talk by Judge James S. Pirtle.
about the Library. It so happened thai this was the seventieth anniver-
sary of the organization of. the Law Library, although this fact was
unknown to Judge Pirtle when lie suggested that particular day for the
assemblage. The occasion was made a celebration of the event.
Being favorably impressed with the Law Library, Mr. William F.
Yust, librarian of the Free Public Library, made the suggestion that %
history of tin institution be written, as it would prove a valuable addi-
tion to the archives of Louisville. The suggestion was promptly met
by Judge Pirtle, who, in turn, proposed that 1 be asked to do the work.
Thus it came about that the following history was written. To the kind-
ness of Judge Pirtle, Judge Charles IS. Seymour and Miss Susan A.
Fleming, librarian of the Law Library. 1 am indebted for much informa-
tion not found in the old book of records which was my chief informant
of events. On Sunday. January 21, 1912, the completed article was
published in the Courier- Journal. (This, however, diil not include the
appendix.) At a meeting of the Louisville Law Library Company,
on the day immediately preceding the publication of the article in the
Courier-Journal, a motion made, seconded and carried, was to the
effect that as "An article written by Miss Lilian Semple Truman, which
is valuable as a history of the Library, and is adorned by brief biogra-
phies or mention of the men to whom in beginning, growth and present
condition are due. would appear in the Courier-Journal the next day;
Resolved — That the thanks of the Louisville Law Library Company-
are extended to Miss Truman for her work. That the Librarian is
authorized to cooperate with Miss Truman in putting the e>say in a
form for permanent use by publication in a pamphlet, some copies to
be bound. Resolved — That the Librarian of the Louisville Law Library-
shall present two of the bound copies of the pamphlet to the Louisville
Free Public Library, one to the -Library of Congress, and one to the
Law Library of Kentucky."
Immediately after the publication of the article, steps were taken to
have it republished in tin- pamphlet form. This has been done with
the courteous permission of the Editors of the Courier-Journal.
In closing tin- introduction it gives me much pleasure to say that,
far from being a tedious undertaking, the work of compilation has been
most pleasant, affording many hours of congenial work, as well as
bringing me into close touch with such splendid gentlemen as Judge
Pirtle and Judge Seymour, and my adoption into their wide circle of
Lilian Skmm.k Triman.
THE LOUISVILLE LAW LIBRARY
By LILIAN SEMPLE TRUMAN
"You have greatly ventured,
But nil umst do so who would greatly wlu." — Byrou.
In an old book in the Louisville Law Library, on the first page,
written in the small characters of a by-gone day, and dated February
.S, 1839, is recorded the first attempt to form the law library. Under the
heading, "An Act to Incorporate the Louisville Law Library Company,"
the following appears, and it will be of deep interest to those who arc
interested in the present law library: "Be it enacted by the General
Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, That Henry Pirtle, Gar-
nett Duncan, John Kearney and their associates and successors, shall
be, and they are hereby created a body politic and corporate, by the
name of the Louisville Law Library Company, and by that name shall
have perpetual succession and corporate existence, with power and
authority to contract and be contracted with, sue and be sued, and have
a corporate seal, and change, alter and renew the same at pleasure."
That was a little more than seventy-two years ago. During those
years the Louisville Law Library has grown steadily, tho' not without
falterings, it is true; yet, be it said to the credit of those men who have
given so generously of their time and money, with never a fall by the
In as brief a way as possible, in my capacity as "historian," and
without neglecting any of the events which lead up to the present day,
I shall tell of the inception and growth of the Louisville Law Library,
and as its history is so closely interwoven with that of the Jefferson
County Courthouse. 1 may be pardoned, perhaps, if 1 wander from the
main paths occasionally to touch upon that institution. As for the men
who have imbibed knowledge from its books, many of those who have
been numbered among the great of Louisville and Kentucky in the early
days when city and library were both young, have long since obeyed
the call of the Great Law Giver, and few are left now who can remem-
ber the days when the names of Breckinridge and Pope and Guthrie
were names to conjure with.
Among the early adherents of the library and those who have been
for long earnest workers in its behalf, and who have since grown to
prominence here are Judge James S. Pirtle, Judge Charles B. Seymour,
Judge VV. O. Harris, and Judge Alex. P. Humphrey. But to return to
the early records.
The Original Prospective
They relate that "the affairs of the Louisville Law Library Company
and the management of its fiscal and prudential concerns shall be con-
trolled by a president and four manager?, these to be elected annually
by the share-holders at such time and place as the by-laws shall direct."
The records further tell of the provision for the "establishment and
maintenance of a law library in Louisville to consist of the history,
treatises, Constitution oi the United States and of .the several States
and Territories, and of the laws and decisions of the Supreme Court and
Appellate Courts of the United States and of the several States and Ter-
ritories, and of the laws of Great Britain and Ireland, and the decisions
of the Common Law anil Chancery Courts and of elementary works,
and such other treatises mi law as may he deemed useful." A room was
to be provided for the uses of the newly-formeu library, and no books
were to be permitted to be taken out "on any pretext whatever." Read-,
ing and writing desks, however, were stipulated, and anyone entitled to
the use of the library was allowed to do the necessary reading and writ-
ing in the library-room.
The capital of the ih-w library was to be $20,000, divided into 20(1
shares of $100 each. This could be increased from time to time, just as
the management saw lit. Not mure than 25 per cent, per annum was
to be called on the stock first sold, and as soon as sixty shares had been
subscribed the organization was effective. It was also decreed that no
one not a shareholder should be president.
This act creating the Louisville Law Library Company was passed
by the Legislature in 1839 but it was net until 1841, two years later, that
the organization became fully perfected. Then, on March 20, of that
year, Henry' Pirtle, Garnett Duncan and John Kearney obtained the
right to secure subscriptions, ami as the result of their labors sixty
men became members of the association. The names of these men. to-
gether with a few short biographical sketches of those more prominent.
Roll of Charter Members
W. S. Pilcher — One of the most celebrated of Louisville's Mayors,
who died of injuries received while trying to suppress a mob.
James Speed — Attorney General in both Lincoln's and Johnson's
Cabinets, until July. 1866. He was a warm personal friend of Mr. Lin-
W. 11. Field — A celebrated lawyer, the father of Judge Emmet Field,
and grandfather of Judge W. 11. Field and Judge James Quarles.
Walker Morris — Remembered as having owned the first large, pri-
vate law library in the city, lie was one of the best known lawyers
of his time.
W. F. Bullock — Judge at one time of the Circuit Court and a pro-
fessor in the then newly-established law school.
Humphrey Marshall — Noted member of Congress front Louisville.
He was also a Minister to China and served as Major General in the
Confederate army and was one of the most brilliant lawyers this coun-
try has ever produced.
W. J. Graves — A member of Congress for yeaxs and one of the prin-
cipals in the noted Graves-Cilly duel.
HON. HENRY PIRTLE
Garnett Duncan — A member of Congress, who afterward became dis-
tinguished as a lawyer in New Orleans. He spent his latter years in
Paris. He was one of the first Professors of the Law School.
Nathaniel Wolfe — A Prosecuting Attorney of Louisville and a well-
John T. Gray, Jr. — Prominent lawyer and author of "A Kentucky
Chronicle." a remarkably interesting story of Louisville.
W. P. Boone — City .Attorney; a Colonel commanding a regiment in
the Union army and a descendant of Squire Boone, a brother of Daniel
William Preston — A distinguished lawyer, a member of Congress,
Minister to Spain and Major General in the Confederate army.
Currau Pope— Clerk of the County Court prior to the war. He was
Colonel of the Fifteenth Kentucky regiment and died of wounds re-
ceived at Perryville.
P. S. Loughborough — Author of the Digest of the Kentucky Statutes
and one of the first professors in the law school.
John Joyes- — Judge of the Police Court for many years.
William P. Thomasson — Member of Congress and a noted "anti-
slavery" partisan. Mr. Thomasson laid off the back of his farm into
lots and sold them to negroes. Residents of Second street, between
Magnolia and Hill streets, still call the few cabins left there "Brown-
A. J. Ballard— Brother of Bland Ballard and father of Messrs. Charles
T. Ballard. S. Thruston Ballard and Rogers Ballard Thruston. Mr.
Ballard was also a Clerk of the United States Circuit Court.
W. J. Heady — Well-known lawyer. He was captured during the war
with Mexico and. with Gen. Cassius M. Clay, was taken a prisoner to
the City of Mexico.
Hamilton Pope — Noted lawyer and politician, who lived to be very
Henry Pirtle — The father of Judge James S. Pirtle. When less than
30 years of age he became Judge of the Jefferson Circuit Court, and was
three times Chancellor of the Louisville Chancery Court and the head
of the law school for years. The firm of Pirtle & Speed won great repu-
tation as lawyers.
Patrick II. Pope — Member of Congress from this district.
James D. Breckinridge — Member of Congress, a large real estate
owner and prominent at the bar.
James Guthrie — Came from Nelson county when a young man and
became one of the leading lawyers of the State. He was a member of
the Legislature, president of the Constitutional Convention in 1849,
Secretary of the Treasury under Franklin Pierce, a president of the
Louisville & Nashville railroad and United States Senator from Ken-
John Rowan — Came to Louisville after having become one of the
most distinguished lawyers in Bardstown. He was Judge of the Court
of Appeals, a brilliant lawyer, scholar and orator, and was United States
Isaac R. Greene — At the time of his death he was the oldest lawyer at
the Louisville bar, practicing until he was 90 years of age. He was the
preceptor of Aaron Kohn, a Captain in the Black Hawk War and a
personal friend of Mr. Lincoln.
The other charter members were:
W. W. FRY
W. C. WOOD
W. R. GRIGSBY
CHARLES M. THRUSTON
D. D. WILSON
H. W. GRAY
THOMAS I. WILLSON
R. S. WHEATLEY
CHARLES J. CLARKE
A. M. FONTAINE
WILLIAM D. PAYNE
JOHN O. HARRISON
RICHARD H. COKE
D. A. ROBERTSON
THOMAS P. SMITH
S. R. COCKRILL
JAMES I. DOZIER
P. H. POPE
j. B. LANCASTER
WILLIAM T. SPURRIE1
H. C. BANKS
The Judges of the Circuit and Chancery Courts in 1839-1841, who
had the use of the library, and to whom its members cited the reports
which it contained were:
John J. Marshall, of the Circuit Court and George M. Bibb (1839)
and Samuel S. Nicholas (1841') Chancellors.
Judge Marshall was a son of Humphrey Marshall, the historian and
Senator, a Reporter of the Court of Appeals, a lawyer of great attain-
ments, noted for his power of analysis and retentive memory.
Chancellor Bibb bad been a Judge and after a lapse of many years
Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals, Reporter of that Court. U. S.
Senator two terms, and became Secretay of the U. S. Treasury in 1844.
He was one of the most capable men of his time, and an ardent disciple
of Isaak Walton.
Chancellor Nicholas was a Judge of the Court of Appeals when 32
years of age, resigning in 1835. He was Chancellor ten years. He in-
herited the strong intellect of bis father, George Nicholas, and was a
jurist and publicist of high rank and distinction.
The Organization Perfected
Immediately upon securing these sixty names, the incorporators.
Messrs. Pirtle, Duncan and Kearney, called a meeting of the share-
holders, which was held in the Circuit Court room, "in the east end of
the new courthouse," and it was held on Saturday, May 16, 1841. Judge
Pirtle was called to the chair and Charles J. Clarke appointed secretary.
An election was then held and Mr. James Guthrie was chosen president,
and four managers, Messrs. Garnett Duncan, P. S. Loughborough, Henry
Pirtle and VV. Browne, were elected by ballot. The following resolu-
tions, on motion of Mr. Guthrie, were then unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That the president and managers of this company be re-
quested to appoint not less than three professors and establish law
lectures and a law school.
Resolved, That the sixty original subscribers be entitled to attend
the law lectures as long as they shall remain shareholders, without
Resolved, That the president and managers apply to the City Council
for the use of a library room and another room in the courthouse for
the use of the company and the law school.
Resolved, That they use their discretion in opening subscriptions
for the additional library provided by the Seventh Section of the charter.
Resolved, That they have authority to adopt by-laws, subject to a
revision of the shareholders.
Resolved, That they be requested to ascertain and report a list of law
books, with the dale of the editions and the price which the subscribers
are willing to give the company in payment of the shares, and when
made out, submit same and their by-laws to a called meeting of the
With the organization of the company the next step was the secur-
ing of rooms which could be used for the library, and after some delay
the rooms in the east end of the basement of the courthouse were se-
cured, and the library established there. These same rooms are now
used by the County Assessor.
For several years there was no regular librarian, students in the law
school and the lawyers themselves, acting in that capacity, and relieving
each other. On July 5, 1847, the first librarian, John W. Tyler, was
appointed, and less than a year later Joseph Furniss succeeded him. Mr.
Furniss was granted permission to use the small east room communicat-
ing with the library room as a bedroom. Among the duties of Mr. Fur-
niss was that of making an alphabetical list of all the books in each book-
case, and to keep the same suspended on the outside of the bookcase
for inspection. At that time no one except members of the library was
permitted to use the books and no member could invite residents of
the city to visit the library.
Under the present regime all that is changed, and citizens of Louis-
ville not lawyers, as well as lawyers not residents of the city, are given
a cordial welcome.
"No subscriber who shall be in arrears on the payment on his stock,"
says the record, "shall be certified by the secretary of this company to
the librarian as entitled to the use of the library until the arrearages are
Whether Mr. Furniss quarreled with his job, or whether life in the
basement of the courthouse palled upon his aesthetic tastes, the records
do not show; but, at any rate, in November, 1848, John Pope was ap-
pointed librarian, and Joseph Smith his assistant.
In October, 1851, John A. Polk was appointed librarian, for which
he was to receive the magnificent sum of $12.50 per month! This, too.
after he had been obliged "to give bond, with surety, in the sum o!
In July, 1855, Mr. James Guthrie, president of the company, having
left the State for an indefinite length of time, and Mr. Gwyn Page, one
of the managers, having become a mm- resident of the State. Judge
Henry Pirtle was made president, and Mr. Charles Ripley a member of
the Board of Managers.
Contract With University
In 1853 a contract between the Louisville Law Library Company and
the University of Louisville, which had been made some time prior,
but not before recorded, was spread upon the records. This contract
was to the effect that the students of the law department of the univer-
sity should have the use of the library for the law school during the
sessions. They were to use the books and take care of the rooms during
that time. They were not to allow any of the books to be taken out,
and were, in all other respects, to abide by the library regulations, the
privileges to be retained by the subscribers of the use of the library as
originally stated. The law school was to invest the matriculation fees
of $5 for each student at each session, which entitled bun to the use of
the library. At the present time each of the two law schools pays to
the library a certain stated sum yearly for the use of the books by their
On October 25 of the same year Judge Pirtle resigned the presidency
and Mr. James Speed was elected, pro tern., and it was not until July,
1857, that he stepped down from the presidential chair, and Mr. Walker
Morris was unanimously chosen his successor. The following Septem-
ber at a meeting of the Board of Managers, Mr. W. VV. Fry was regu-
larly nominated and elected president.
In 1856 the library was removed from the courthouse to the rooms
in Court Place, where the annex now stands, ami for a time was in the
hall used by the Louisville Law School.
In March, 1861, M. S. Fields resigned the office of librarian, secretary
and treasurer, and Mr. Jack Fry was appointed.
In January, 1864, at a meeting of the stockholders, the Hon. James
Speed was again called to the chair, and a committee, consisting of
Messrs. J. W. Barr, Isaac Caldwell and J. G. Coke, was appointed to
see if more suitable room or rooms could be secured for the library
and the probable costs of the same. Messrs. William Atwood, L. N.
Dembitz and James S. Pirtle were appointed a committee to investigate
the then existing conditions ol the library, and. accordingly, on January
27. 1864. this committee made its report. In this report Mr. Atwood,
chairman, made the statement, among others, that "the dead and non-
residents (members) are put in a class by themselves." The report does
not go further and state in just what "class" the "dead" members were
put. Mr. J. \Y. Barr at this same meeting reported that the marshal's
office and adjoining room could be procured and thrown into one at a
probable cost of $75.
JUDGE W. OVERTON HARRIS
The Hon. W. F. Bullock was the next president, and Edward Doll
was elected librarian in April, 1864. His salary at the time was fixed
at $100 per annum.
In August, 1864, the first list of books purchased and donated, with
the prices and names of the donators is recorded. There is also for
that year a record marked "expenditures," and among the necessities
purchased were ostrich duster, stepladder, one dozen spittoons, carpet,
chairs, stationery, library sign, etc. Housekeeping for the library was,
in 1864, a strenuous affair, evidently, and Mr. Doll, if he attended to his
duties, must have worked overtime. We wonder if he ever had to beat
the carpet, Shortly afterward Mr. Doll resigned, and Mr. McGlemery
was elected librarian pro tem.
Rival Association Organized
In 1860 the Louisville Law Library had but forty stockholders; these
paid $10.00 a year dues so that the regular income of the library outside
of what was received from the law school was only $400.00 per annum.
Each share of stock was of the par value of $100.00, of which only $75.00
had been paid.
Under these circumstances the younger members of the bar requested
the stockholders to reduce the par value of the stock to $25.00 and ad-
mit them into the library. This plan was not satisfactory to the stock-
holders, and thereupon the younger men organized a rival association,
The Jefferson Law Association, for the purpose of building up and estab-
lishing a rival law library upon the idea that if the stockholders would
not consent to the establishment of one strong library, the bar might
as well have two weak libraries as one weak library. As a result of this
move negotiations took place between the stockholders of the Louis-
ville Law Library Company and the members of the Jefferson Law As-
sociation, which resulted in a new arrangement. Shares of stock were
issued at $25.00 each to new men and to each of the previous stock-
holders of the Louisville Law Library Company three shares of stock
were issued. Thirty-eight new subscribers came in under this arrange-
ment, making an immediate addition of $950,00 to the capital of the li-
brary; and as many of the old stockholders gave away their extra two
shares of stock or sold same, the number of members paying $10.00 per
year was in a few months raised to nearly 120. This change made pos-
sible the growth and extension of the library, and indeed it may be re-
garded as the one thing that saved the library.
On June 10, 1871, a committee of eight was appointed to secure from
the Courthouse Commissioners, the County Court and the General Coun-
cil of the City of Louisville a more suitable room for the use of the li-
brary. Mr. William Atwood was elected president and Messrs. Alex P.
Humphrey, St. John Boyle, J. M. Wright and F. T. Fox were elected
managers. In October of the same year Mr. John O. Donnell was elected
librarian to succeed Mr. J. W. Jenkins. It was at this time that the
first recorded order to the librarian to keep an account of all books taken
from the library, and to whom charged, was made. The lirst step to-
wards a fairly reasonable salary for the librarian was given an impetus
in April, 1872, when, on motion of F. 'J'. Fox, it was resolved that his
salary should be fixed at $20 a month. The quest for money seemed
then, as now. the greatest difficulty of the managers and delinquent
members were sharply scored. It was discovered in May of the same
year that a number of books were out and the secretary was directed
to notify the members having them that they would be replaced if not
returned before the next meeting, the cost to be charged to them. That
ruling should certainly have had a salutary effect, for law books are
One of the most interesting records was made in August, 1X72, when
a line of $1.00 was assessed against Judge Bland Ballard, the Hon. J.
M. Harlan and W. O. Harris, for what reason it does not say. As ever}
one knows, Mr. Harlan was one of the Justices of the Supreme Court of
the United States. Judge Harris was Dean of the Louisville Law School
and Judge Ballard was United States Judge.
Mr. J. R. M. Polk was the next librarian and in 1873, on the death
of Mr. At wood, the president, Mr. Fontaine T. Fox was elected to suc-
ceed him. Judge Fox is still one of the able lawyers of Louisville and
his son, Fontaine T. Fox, Jr., is fast becoming one of the leading car-
toonists of the country.
In February, 1873, at a meeting of the presidents and managers, it
was agreed that the librarian should be allowed the sum of $5 for every
share of stock sold and the price collected and also that he be given 10
per cent, of all fines collected by him.
Shortly after' this board was appointed the rule was made that there
be no smoking allowed in the library, as the managers feared that "the
smoke was injuring the bindings of the books." This caused great con-
sternation among the stockholders, who promptly met and made a vig-
orous protest. Consequently in February of the same year the rule was
repealed and the treasurer authorized to purchase four new spittoons.
January 17. 1874, being election day a general meeting of the stock-
holders was held and Mr. Byron Bacon was elected president and Messrs.
C. B. Seymour. E. W. C. Humphrey. William Keinecke and W. O. Har-
ris were elected managers. January 19. Mr. Seymour — now Judge Sey-
mour — was elected permanent secretary, which position he Idled until
about a year ago when. Judge W. O. Harris declining to accept the
presidency again. Judge Seymour was elected his successor. Mr. E. W.
C. Humphrey is still treasurer, having served continuously since 1874.
Better System Inaugurated
In May. 1874. the affairs of the library having gotten into a rut. the
Board of Managers determined to go at things in a more business-like
manner. At that time there we're only about two thousand books in the
library, but it was being rapidly added to and these men, with much fore-
sight, realized that the time was coming when business methods would
be absolutely necessary. There were no lists of stockholders, no mem-
orandum of any sort, with the exception of the records of the board
meetings, hence at a meeting held May 2 a form of certificate was adopt-
ed and other matters considered, which have since proved of the greatest
possible benefit to the library. During this same month a form of trans-
fer of stock and a seal for the library were adopted and the issue of
stock certificates was ordered. During the next year little except
routine business was attended to. the same president and Board of Man-
agers being elected for the year. On January 26, 1874, Mr. Samuel F.
Johnson was elected librarian, which position he held until his death on
March 25, 1909.
In 1877 a motion was adopted that the State be requested to present
to the library a copy of each volume of statutes and Kentucky reports as
issued and that an exchange of reports be established. The same presi-
dent and Hoard of Managers and librarian were elected and Mr. John
son's salary was fixed at $30 per month, in addition to which he was
to have 10 per cent, of all collections made by him.
During the year 1878 no less than two hundred and thirteen books
were added and the secretary reported the library as being in good con-
dition and prosperous. The following year one hundred and forty vol-
umes were added and since then the library has continued to grow al
the average rate of two hundred volumes a year.
In December, 1882, the salary of the librarian was raised to $35. The
next year the board again raised its voice against smoking in the library
and Mr. Johnson was ordered to prevent it if possible; but. in 1884. the
action prohibiting smoking was repealed. There seems to have been
much divided opinion anent this habit but, as usual, the smokers came
out on top.
At the regular annual meeting of the stockholders" on January 17,
1885, it was moved and seconded that a room, to be used for study,
should be partitioned off by swinging doors, or otherwise, from the main
room, and that neither talking nor smoking were to be allowed in this
km 'in. The motion was amended, however, to the effect that the clause,
"nn smoking," be stricken out, and this was unanimously carried.
In 1885 a door was opened into the Chancery Court room, and cases
sufficient to hold 2,000 volumes put up. From then until 1891 nothing
of any especial interest happened, the same president, librarian and
board of managers being elected each year.
Opened to the Public
In 1891 the library was for the first time opened to the public, but on
the following terms: That any person should have the right to an annual
ticket of admission to the library, expiring December 31 or June 30. in
any year, upon paying the sum of $15 in advance. This money, together
with the dues, was to be used by the library fur the payment of all debts,
and to purchase books. For several years there was much need of
more room, and Mr. Johnson, in his yearly reports, while reporting the
library in a healthy condition and its use constantly increasing, empha-
sizes the lack of space, and begs the board of managers to make some
arrangement tending toward that effect.
In March. 1898. a new law. affeiting those lawyers who have been
practicing only a short time, was put into effect, and. in the words of
the record, signed by C. B. Seymour, says: "It is ordered that until
further order of this board any person who has not been admitted to
the bar, here or elsewhere, as long as live years shall be admitted to
the use of the library year by year until after the expiration of the fifth
year from his admission to the bar upon payment of dues at the rate
of $5 per annum. F.very person so applying shall furnish to the librarian
a statement of the date and place of his admission to the bar, which
statement the librarian shall record in a book." This rule is still in
Judge W. O. Harris, who was until the past year president of the
board, was elected in 1900 to that office, on the death of Mr. Byron Ba-
con, and Messrs. Helm Bruce and Morton V. Joyes were elected to fill
the vacancies caused by the death of Mr. Bacon, and of Mr. George M.
Davie, who had been on the board of managers.
During this same year the buildings on the site where the courthouse
annex now stands were being torn down and the board of managers
had hoped when the annex was completed to have more room for the
rapidly growing library. The next year this longed-for change was
realized, and, the annex having been completed, all the courts moved
into it, and the Fiscal Court, upon application of the Louisville Law
Library Association, gave to the association the then Common Pleas
Court room and all of that end of the then Clerk's office next to it. This
court further agreed to furnish these two rooms with bookcases, tables,
chairs, carpets, etc. Thus, in January, 1902, the library was moved into
its present quarters, where a superabundance of light, heat and ventila-
tion brought joy to the heart of the librarian.
For several years things continued to go very smoothly, the library
steadily growing in volumes, as well as in influence and usefulness. Then
on December 26, 1905, fire broke out in the courthouse, which was, how-
ever, confined almost entirely to the roof. The principal damage to the
library was from the water. Many of the books were injured, and the
furniture and carpets suffered. For some time the front room could not
be used, but the back room had suffered little. The next year, when
work on the repairing of the damage done by the fire was begun the li-
brary was forced to move its quarters to the Joint Session room, which
same move was accomplished at a cost of $205, and the labor of a dozen
men for a week or ten days, it was two years before the library was
once more established in .its old quarters, from which they had been
driven by the fire of 1905, and there was much rejoicing among its con-
stituents, for these quarters are much more convenient in every way.
On the 25th of March, 1909, the librarian, .Samuel F. Johnson, died,
and the board at a meeting passed the following memorial, which was
placed upon the records:
"Samuel F. Johnson for more than thirty-live years has served as
librarian of the Louisville Law Library. He was a faithful and courte-
ous officer. He was in his seventieth year at the time of his death. While
still a young man he entered the Confederate Army and served through-
out the war. He was a devoted member of the Christian church, and
a man of piety and exemplary life. He leaves behind him many devoted
friends. During his term of service the library has grown from a small
collection of books to a collection of great value and usefulness; and to
CHARLES B. SEYMOUR
his diligence and faithfulness may be ascribed much of the success of
the library. For more than lifteen years he was a deputy commissioner
of the Jefferson Circuit Court, having for some time already been deputy
commissioner of the Louisville Chancery Court."
Miss Fleming Becomes Librarian
After the death of Mr. Johnson, Miss Susan A. Fleming was elected
to the position of librarian. This was in April, 1909. Since then Miss
Fleming has done a great deal for the betterment of the library. As an
indication of what she has done for the library and of how well she is
thought of by those who have occasion for frequent use of the books.
the following poem, written by a member of the bar and read at a re-
cent meeting of the Lawyers' Club, is quoted:
"Gone are the mannish days of yore,
When Dembitz delved and Frank Camp swore,
When Davie dug from top to floor
Among the books. And when a roar
Shot out at stalwart warrior joke.
And Johnson frowned amid the smoke,
And soldiers, statesmen. Judges spurned.
Here lost their fame, unjustly earned.
While Calvin, Coleridge, Charles Lamb, Bell
Murmured softly, 'This is 'hell.'
"Now reigns 'mid books the seraph-eyed,
And all the talk is certified
Like pure food milk. A gentle hush
Pervades the room, and oft a blush
Steals o'er the hardened lawyer's cheek,
With tones all mild and looks all meek,
He takes his book from her fair hand:
Learning and manners together stand.
The world does move: to us is given
To rise from men to saints in heaven."
At the present time the Louisville Law Library has three sets of
contributors to the library. First, stockholders, who pay $15 per annum;
Second, all members of the bar who have been practicing le>> than live
years, who may use the books for $5 per annum: third, members <>l the
bar who have been practicing more than five years and who are not
stockholders may use the library for $15 per annum.
( >n January 16 last the president and Board of Managers submitted
their report to the stockholder-., the gi>t of which was that the library
was iii debt. This, says the report, is clue to the heavy expenditures
incurred when the library was moved to and from the annex after the
lire, tn the binding of many books damaged at that time, and t • > the cost
of heat, light and janitor's service.
It was suggested thai a committee be appointed tn solicit subscrip-
tions from the members of the bar For the purpose of meeting the ac-
crued indebtedness, as the members of the board did not think it best
to borrow money for this purpose. This committee, duly appointed by
Judge James S. Pirtle, chairman of the stockholders' meeting, was com-
posed of Henry M. Johnson, chairman; W. W. Crawford and John M.
In February, 1911, at a meeting of the Board of Trustees, Judge C.
B. Seymour stated that the purpose of the call was to consider a tenta-
tive proposition made between the committee which had been appointed
for the purpose of looking into the betterment of the condition of the
library, and James R. Duffin, representing the Inter-Southern Life In-
surance Company, relative to the removal of the library from the court-
house to the new building which that company is erecting at Fifth and
Jefferson streets. The proposition was that the company would furnish
such space as the law library would need on one of the floors of the new-
building, rent free, and furnish janitor service, heat, light and elevator
service, and donate $500 to the law library. The library, of course, was
to furnish the librarian and keep up the library. This proposition of
Mr. Duffin's meeting with the approval of the Board of Trustees, was
adopted, and now the library is facing another and a most advantageous
move. The contract was signed shortly afterward, and in the course of
another year the law library will be housed in surroundings compatible
with its age, dignity and usefulness, and for a period of twenty years.
It is something to point to with pride that, during all the years of its
existence the integrity of the Louisville Law Library Company has been
unquestioned and that there have been, and still are, men of the highest
legal and social standing who have given of their time and means for its
maintenance and continuation.
In June. 1911, members of the bar at a meeting of the Joint Session
of the Circuit Court, presented to the Library Association a very hand-
some life-sized portrait of Judge C. B. Seymour as a token of their ap-
preciation of his long and gratuitous services to the library as director,
secretary and president.
Eleven Thousand Volumes
A history of the Louisville Law Library, no matter how short, would
scarcely be complete without some mention of the books which it has
been steadily collecting.
There is a fairly complete system of reports, including English and
Irish reports; statutes, codes and digests; bound magazines; good selec-
tion of text books, about 500 volumes, belonging to the Louisville Bar
Association: besides these there are a few very rare volumes of ancient
legal lore, some of them in "black letter" type, and some of them bound
in pigskin — one as early as 1601, the original binding of which, in spite
of its age, is in almost perfect condition. There is one set, folio edition,
called "State Trials," and full of interesting old English cases, on one
of which is based Stevenson's story. "Kidnapped."
In all, there are over eleven thousand volumes in the library, a fact
to which Louisville has the right to point with pride.
Among these books are the following, all of which are rare:
The Partidas, four volumes, the Code of the Ancient Spanish Law
Those bnnks, nil of which arc bound in pigskin, date from 1576. and on
many of the pages are marginal references, which, for the Latin scholar.
might prove of interest.
The Basilicon, two volumes. (The Legislation of the Eastern Em-
pire. Latin and Greek parallel columns.)
Opinions of Augustus Berous, in Latin, published at Augsburg in
A number of folios which formerly belonged to Luther Martin, the
famous American lawyer (1744-1826) who defended Aaron Burr, and
which have his autograph in them.
Lutvvyche's reports are interesting, from manuscript notes on the
margins, in the old court hand.
Lex Mercatoria Kediviva. or the Merchant's Directory, published in
1783 by Wyndham lieawes, Ksqr., and containing valuable information
of all kinds for merchants in all trades then known.
THK HISTORY OF THE LIBRARY IS, IN A 1IKA.SIRK, A HISTORY OF TH K MAR.
It cannot have failed to have impressed the patient reader of this
article wdio has gone with me on the journey of over seventy years,
that in giving the history of the law library I have, in a measure, given
to the present generation, lawyers and laymen, a history of the Louis-
ville bar. Nor can 1 have done my work well unless the fact stands
out that the lawyers who originated the law library, and their successors
to this day. have been men with a purpose to keep that bar abreast of
the times, and learned in all the developments of the science of juris-
prudence. To no one other agency can the. high rank of the lawyers
of Louisville be ascribed so well as to their creating, nourishing, im-
proving and constantly using the library, so essential to a knowledge
of the law. The names, which have appeared above from time to time,
shed lustre upon the bar: there are many others which are familiar
which happen not to have gotten upon the record of the Library Com-
pany, from which so much of this history has been bodily taken. And
of them very many are the name- <<i those who have largely contributed
by their talents, learning and achievements to that fame which has been
won by an uninterrupted succession ,i\ men devoted to the administra-
tion of justice.
It is a matter of pride to the Louisville bar. and that pride is shared
by the community as the honor done a part of our fellow-citizens is an
honor to the whole people, that the rank of that bar in the country was
signally recognized by so high an authority and so competent a judge
as the President of the United Stales. He, in a recent speech while on
a \isit to Louisville, recalling his pleasant relations to its bar, and nam-
ing -nine of its deceased members to whom he was deeply attached, said
that in all that makes a great bar that of the City of Louisville was with-
out a superior — "the incomparable bar of your city" — Laudatus a
laudato, indeed, I wish the time shall never come when that praise will
be less deserved than now.
PARTIAL CATALOGUE OF LOUISVILLE
S. Circuit and District Courts of U. S. Su-
Of all the States of U
American Bankruptcy Reports
LT. S. Civil Service Kepi n'l 5
U. S. Interstate Commerce
American and English Corporation
New York Supplement,
Law Reports Bankruptcy
Common Law Railway and Canal Case?
Queen's Bench and King's Bench Beavan
Common Pleas Clark & Finnelly
West System of Reports, Complete
National Bankruptcy Register
American State Reports
American Corporation Cases
American Electrical Cases
Kentucky Law Reporter
and many others
Digest of Kentucky
American and l'.ngli-
h Ency clu-
pedia of Law
Cyclopedia of Plead
ing and Prac-
U. S. Supreme Court
JAMES S. P1RTLE
U. S. Compiled Statutes
V. S. Revised Statutes.
Louisiana and Code
Could & Tucker's Notes on
Revised Statutes of U. S.
U. S. Statutes at Large
I.ATE STATUTES OF
Statutes of Many States.
Kentucky Codes and Statutes prior
Kentucky Acts of the Legislature.
1798-99 and 1808-1910
Central Law Journal
Albany Law Journal
American Law Register
American Law Review
Southern Law Review
Insurance Law Journal
Opinions of Attorneys General
American Bar Association Reports
State Bar Association Reports
Howell's State Trials
Total number of books in Louisville Law Library, 11,500.
A good library of modern text books, which belongs to the Louis
ville Bar Association. United States Supreme Court Digest. Words and
THE JUDICIARY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY
The Judges of the Jefferson Circuit Court, Louisville Chancery
Court, Jefferson Court of Common Pleas, Louisville Law and Equitj
Court, beginning in 1839 and ending in 1912:
JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT
JOHN J. MARSHALL HENRY S. BARKER
WILL1AM-F. BULLOCK THOMAS R. GORDON
PETEB IS. MUIK UPTON W. MUIR
GEORGE W. JOHNSTON \SIIKK G. CARUTH
HORATIO W. BRUCE SAMUEL B. ECIRBY
WILLIAM L. JACKSON MATT. Q'DOHERTY
REZIN C. DAVIS JOSEPH PRYOR
WILLIAM. L. JACKSON, Jr. WALTER I'. LINCOLN
L. II. NOBLE JAMES P. GREGORY
ISAAC \Y. EDWARDS HOMER WARD BATSON
EMMET K1KLD WILLIAM II. FIELD
STERLING B. TONE.Y ROBERT W. BINGHAM
SHACKELEORD MILLER JAMES QUARLES
LOUISVILLE CHANCERY COURT
OE< i. M. BIBB ROBERT W. WOOLLEY
SAMUEL S. NICHOLAS HORATIO W. BRUCE
HENRY I'lRTi.K ALEXANDER P. HUMPHREY
CALEB W. LOGAN ISAAC W. EDWARDS
THOMAS B. COCHRAN
JEFFERSON COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
PETER I'.. MUIR EMMET FIELD
HENRY J. STlTES
LOUISVILLE LAW AND EQUITY COURT
JAMES HARLAN JO I IX G. SIM.RALL
FONTAINE T. I'o.X WILLIS OVERTON HARRIS
ALFRED T. POPE STERLING B. TONEY
JAMES S. PIRTLE